Avoiding Common Teen Driver Mistakes

by SPerry on ‎02-03-2016 10:46 AM - last edited on ‎03-03-2016 01:59 PM by Lithium Technologies (1,409 Views)

Many teens commit these common driving errors. Here’s how they can avoid them.



Speeding, texting while driving, not yielding to other cars—teenage drivers make many mistakes. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted several studies and unearthed the common mistakes teens make while driving. Here’s what you can do to teach your teen to become a better, safer driver.


Mistake: Not wearing a seat belt. Some 56 percent of teens killed in car crashes in 2013 weren’t wearing their seat belts, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Tell your teen: Buckling up can reduce a person’s chances of being hurt or killed in a crash by nearly half, according to the NHTSA.


Mistake: Driving too fast. Researchers analyzed nearly 1,700 videos of teens crashing, and teens were driving too fast for conditions in 79 percent of the single-vehicle crashes that were examined, according to a 2015 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Tell your teen: Driving too fast for conditions increases the likelihood of losing control of the car—and the severity of a crash. To help young drivers hone their judgment, parents should continue practicing with their teens in conditions that require them to manage speed, such as sharp curves and wet roads. Teens also can use Driver-ZED, an interactive training tool that helps teens recognize how to react in a variety of driving scenarios.


Mistake: Following too closely. In the rear-end crashes that AAA examined in the 2015 study, teens were following the other car too closely 36 percent of the time.

Tell your teen: Use the four-second rule to help them maintain a safe distance behind vehicles. Teach your teen how to watch as the car in front of his passes a fixed object, such as a road sign, then start counting as his vehicle passes the object. If your teen’s car reaches the marker before he finishes counting, he’s following too closely.


Mistake: Driving while distracted. Distraction was a factor in nearly 60 percent of the 1,700 crashes analyzed in the 2015 Foundation study. Interacting with passengers was the most common distraction; using cell phones was No. 2.
Tell your teen: Even having just one passenger under the age of 21 in the car increases a teen driver’s risk of being killed in a crash by 44 percent, Foundation research shows. Of course, texting while driving is still a prevalent behavior among teen drivers. Five seconds is the average time your teen’s eyes are off the road while texting. When he’s driving at 55 miles per hour, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field. As a passenger, your teen can offer to make calls or send texts for the driver.


To encourage your teen’s safe-driving habits, consider creating a parent-teen driving agreement, like this example from AAA. Also, teens who are children of AAA Members can get a free AAA Membership if they have their learner’s permits. So if your teen gets a flat tire or runs out of gas, he can call AAA for help.


Learning to drive can be a scary, intimidating task—and teens are bound to make some mistakes. But with practice and a few tips along the way, your teen can have a lifetime of happy, safe driving.


Curious about the teen driving study? Read more on it.


A version of this story appears in the March/April 2016 issue of AAA Living magazine.


Image credit/source: Meridian Studios/Getty Images

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